Val Thorens Resort History

Posted by George Biffen

Last updated on November 23rd, 2017 at 04:04 pm

In the 1960s the potential of Val Thorens to be transformed from a small mountain village into a location for a purpose-built ski area was noted.

The first area to be developed was the lower area of Les Menuires, which began in 1967. In 1969 the access road was extended up to Val Thorens so that development of the resort could start.

In 1971 the first of 3 drag lifts were installed, followed in 1972 by the opening of the first ski school.

Year after year, Val Thorens continued to develop and gain international recognition. At the time of its opening in 1982, the cable car of Caron was the largest in the world.

Its construction put Val Thorens in the top league of European winter resorts. In less than 10 years, with an average annual investment of €10 million, the ski lifts of Val Thorens started to stand out as some of the most modern in Europe.

Like many 1960s purpose built resorts in the French Alpes, Val Thorens suffered from a lack of architectural ‘guidance’ in the early days, leading to an over-dependence on concrete.

New and renovated development now has to meet far stricter design guidelines and the use of traditional materials is highly sought after.

The resort took an architectural turn in the 1980s when the modern style of the 1970s was altered, to pursue more the charm of an alpine village.

To help return Val Thorens to its original Savoyard style much of the buildings are
now clad with stone and wood; in addition, a pretty church was built in 1993 and there is a new area composed only of chalets.

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